Dancing Alone together: English Country Dance in Isolation
by Janet Nardolillo
Since March 1 our community of English Country Dancers has not gathered to share this beloved dance form, but many of us are keeping the tradition alive in isolation by attending online dance events. I have attended a few Zoom dances with experienced callers and recorded music, and with participants from all over the country and even from overseas.
Callers for the online settings have modified the traditional dance patterns so that they may be done by one or two dancers at home in isolation. My experience as a single dancer differs from those who have a partner at home, but I have found some joy and some nostalgia in this new form of “dancing together.”
First, the joy! Dressing in my dance clothes and shoes, clearing a space for dancing in my home, hearing familiar and lovely ECD music, and following the caller’s instructions have all been fun. It has also been wonderful to see many familiar faces and to greet dancers I have met at various regional events. I have been able to practice the ECD figures without worrying that I would mess up my set.
I had to pace myself, because I was out of shape and out of breath at first, dancing all the parts without pause. Alone, I missed the wonderful smiles of other dancers, our “deep and meaningless eye contact,” and the lovely kaleidoscope patterns made by multiple dancers. My wistfulness is for the community aspect of the dancing.
I look forward to the time when we can be together again in one room, with live music and caller. In the meantime, online dancing “alone together” will be just fine.